What We Know About Alleged LAX Gunman Paul Ciancia
Before being hauled away on a stretcher and sedated on Friday, alleged gunman Paul Ciancia, 23, was able to help investigators by telling them acted alone in his attack of Los Angeles International Airport Terminal 3. Ciancia was shot by law enforcement officials four times, including one shot to the leg and one to the face (a blurred bloody picture can be seen here).
Investigators are trying to piece together exactly what happened on Friday before Ciancia entered the terminal and shot three people before shooting and killing 39-year-old TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez. Ciancia, an unemployed motorcycle mechanic from Pennsville, N.J. who had recently moved to Los Angeles, was dropped off at the airport by an unsuspecting roommate. Because he had sent disturbing texts to his brother earlier in the day, the family had sent Los Angeles police officers to check on him though they arrived at Ciancia's apartment 45 minutes after he left for the airport.
Armed with a legally purchased .223-caliber assault rifle and five 30-round magazines, Ciancia began shooting at the security checkpoint and was chased through the terminal before he was shot. He had in his possession a handwritten letter stating that he had “made the conscious decision to try to kill” multiple TSA employees in order to “instill fear in their traitorous minds.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the note includes references to the “New World Order” and “fiat currency.” It also expresses anger toward the Department of Homeland Security and calls former director Janet Napolitano a “bull dyke.” Mark Potoc at the SPLC speculates that these views put Ciancia squarely in the world of the anti-government “Patriot” movement:
The New World Order refers to a longstanding conspiracy theory that today, in its most popular iteration, claims that global elites are plotting to form a socialistic “one-world government” that would crush American freedoms. Often, the root of the alleged conspiracy is traced to the 1913 creation of the Federal Reserve and the adoption of fiat currency — paper money that is not backed by gold, as it was once was in the U.S.
So-called Patriots also increasingly see the DHS, which produces intelligence assessments of extremists that are distributed to other law enforcement agencies, as an enemy and even a collaborator in the New World Order conspiracy. Many believe DHS has targeted their movement and is somehow connected to the alleged construction of concentration camps by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The purported camps are thought to be meant for those Americans who resist a coming national seizure of all weapons from U.S. citizens.
The TSA, short for the Transportation Security Administration, is an agency of the DHS charged with ensuring the security of transportation, most notably air transportation. Although it has not been widely singled out by Patriots, it has been subjected to criticism by far-right homophobes, among others, who have alleged that TSA agents engaging in hand searches are really sexually groping travelers.
According to other sources, Ciancia’s note reports that TSA agents had previously violated his rights with searches and that he would be happy to kill just one. “Black, white, yellow, brown, I don’t discriminate,” the note read, according to a law enforcement official's paraphrase.
Those who grew up in Ciancia's neighborhood tell reporters that "nobody really knew who he was" and that he was always kind of a "mystery kid." They only know he moved to Los Angeles last year after his mother died of a long-term illness. Adding to the mystery, The Daily Beast also points out that in a rarity for someone his age, Ciancia has virtually no internet presence.
Ciancia remains in critical condition at Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center and he’s being charged with two felony offenses: murder of a federal officer and commission of violence in an international airport. If convicted, he could face life in prison or the death penalty.
[Images via AP]